For movie watchers, few things can be more frustrating than films that begin with a sequence of immense promise, only to show over the remainder that the emperor truly wears no clothes. Two new examples come from the horror realm.
Until now, Ethan Hawke was having a wonderful year. Before Midnight, the third leg of his trilogy with director Richard Linklater and actress Julie Delpy, brought waves of critical acclaim and talk of another Oscar nomination for their collaborative screenplay, while The Purge turned a meager investment into a highly profitable box-office take.
Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Wish Me Away 7:30 p.m. Thursday Oklahoma City Museum of Art 415 Couch okcmoa.com 236-3100 $5-$8
Coinciding with OKC Pride activities, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art on Thursday screens Wish Me Away, a documentary on country music superstar Chely Wright’s decision to come out as gay — arguably the first in her genre to do so.
I’m no admirer of her music, I completely, wholeheartedly respect her
for this act of bravery. Known for hit singles as “Jezebel” and “Single
White Female,” Wright built a winning career in a field that embraces
conservative politics with bear hugs. To announce she’s a lesbian is to
play Russian roulette with her livelihood, but as she tells the camera,
living a lifetime of dishonesty “about killed me.”
“I’ve never denied God and I am about family and I am
about the freedoms of my country, and I’m gay,” says Wright, as
religious as she is beautiful, but Nashville’s culture is such that
homosexuality negates those other beliefs. Thus, we see her cry in
anguish and wrestle with doubt as the film traces the monthlong lead-up
to her very public outing to Meredith Vieira on NBC’s Today.
To tell every step of Wright’s story from a sad childhood in small-town Kansas to the top of the Billboard charts,
feature-debuting directors Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf utilize
music video clips, concert footage and interviews with family members,
friends, radio DJs, music historians, managers and label execs.
past talk-show interview finds Dick Clark asking Wright about her love
life, and she awkwardly stumbles around a non-answer. Back in the now,
more uncomfortable is the resistance she hits after telling those close
to her about her sexuality, from her military-minded brother-in-law to
her New York book editor.
It’s a compelling journey to witness, especially
since Wright intended to let the secret die with her, and it’s nearly
impossible not to empathize on some level. While I love women as much as
Wright does, I have had the most extreme displeasure in feeling like an
outcast. It’s tough to live as yourself when the world around you
bullies you for not being Just Like Them.
Look past Wish Me Away’s occasionally
clumsy edges, like an iMovie title treatment, and support it for
challenging stereotypes. It’s not likely to change anyone’s mindset ...
but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did?